The Eastern Conference is all set to go, as the Carolina Hurricanes were not able to take full control of their own destiny, needing a win to clinch their spot in the playoffs, especially after the New York Rangers did what they had to do, by beating the New Jersey Devils handily in the last game of the season. The Hurricanes were forced to win by any means possible, but instead, fell hard to a Tampa Bay Lightning team that pressed a good work ethic, even in the last game of the season.
This means that Cam Ward and his band of merry men will not be partaking in the Spring Dance, now eliminated from contention and the Eastern Conference match-ups are now set, despite a couple more games having to be played on the last day of the season.
The match-ups will be (and will be expanded upon on another post) the Capitals and Rangers, the Flyers and Sabres, the Bruins and Habs and the Penguins and Lightning. Those are four solid series to start the playoffs, could there be some upsets in the making?
So, the only thing left to decide is where the teams fall in the Western Conference on Sunday. The Canucks, Sharks, Red Wings and Ducks have all secured spots one through four, respectively and there is still quite a bit of jockeying to be done to figure out who those four will face in the opening round.
The Blackhawks have the ability to control their own fate on Sunday, with at least a point in any fashion against the Red Wings, they will secure their spot in the playoffs, making the Stars and Wild game a bit of a moot point. A regulation, overtime or shootout win will put the Blackhawks in 5th, while an overtime or shootout loss will put them in 7th position, but a regulation loss will put the ball back in the court of the Stars, who could finish 8th with the combination of a regulation or overtime win over the Wild.